Josh Barnett addresses contractual issue with the UFC

Josh BarnettThe UFC was more or less able to pick and choose talent from Strikeforce’s roster after the organization folded earlier this year. However, one fighter the Zuffa brass have not been able to come to terms with is heavyweight Josh Barnett. While such news isn’t surprising on the surface considering the rocky relationship Barnett has had with UFC President Dana White in the past, it actually appeared their differences had been settled and the only thing keeping Barnett out of the Octagon was a singular point in the deal he’d been offered.

Barnett recently shed a little light on the matter through representative Leland LaBarre on an episode of The MMA Hour where he confirmed the plan was for him to face former champion Junior dos Santos, expressing regret he might not be able to deliver the fights fans want to see.

“I was excited to fight Junior. I thought he was a favorable match up for me, but Zuffa was unwilling to give me something that they gave Eddie Alvarez. No disrespect to Eddie, but I felt it was fair to give it to me as well,” explained Barnett in a statement (credit to MixedMartialArts.com for the transcription).

While no details were given beyond Alvarez’s name, the lightweight’s contract was made public due to an ongoing legal dispute between Bellator/UFC, including things like a fast-track to a title-shot and a financial percentage of PPV buys.

The 32-6 Barnett went on to reveal he was already in the process of negotiating with other suitors, a bittersweet process according to “The Warmaster”.

“Although things seem to be working out well for me, I feel bad for the fans,” said Barnett. “They wanted me to fight certain guys in the UFC and I really wanted to give them those fights. Once we get the deal we are working on done, the fight the fans scream for will be lost forever.”

PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE

7 COMMENTS
  • THEGUNNER says:

    He should fight big foot.

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  • Richard Stabone says:

    Sorry, Josh. You’re just not as in demand as you’d like to believe.

    As for the Alvarez comparison, two key differences…

    Age – Barnett, at age 35, is essentially in the twilight of his career and six years older than Eddie.

    Contract status – Eddie received a pretty fat offer because the UFC knew it had to try to outbid Bellator, or else Bellator would simply match & retain his services. But under normal free agency circumstances, such as Barnett finds himself now, the UFC knows it holds all the leverage as the premiere MMA org, offering greater exposure, more lucrative sponsorship opportunities, and so on. The UFC can basically lowball fighters when it comes to the actual fight salaries, cuz the other perks more than offset what another org might offer.

    But it’s interesting to see how the Bellator/UFC saga continues to play out, and all the implications it has on the sport. The leak of Eddie’s contract details first led to Bendo speaking out (with the UFC quickly giving him a bump in pay, as a sort of hush money), and now Barnett has tried to use it as leverage. Barnett is not the hot commodity he seems to think he is, but I’m sure the UFC would prefer to bring him on board for his name value and to add depth to the division… on their terms of course. So if/when Barnett lands elsewhere, it seems the fallout from the Eddie Alvarez contract situation will have been at least a small factor.

    Bellator making life a little more difficult for the UFC…I love it. Competition is a beautiful thing that will benefit the sport as a whole.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  • climbarock says:

    I hope this is all just thinly-veiled public negotiating. Barnett would be a nice addition to UFC’s heavyweight division, and with the division being relatively thin at the moment, anyone is a couple quality wins away from a title shot.

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  • MCM says:

    Agreed climbarock. The fact is the UFC needs Josh a lot more than it needs Eddie.
    LW is a stacked division, but guys like Mitrione and Hunt are top 10-20 in the UFC. As good as the HW division has gotten over past couple years, they still need as many legit HW’s as they can get their hands on. And landing a truly legit top 10er like Barnett should be a priority.

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  • Richard Stabone says:

    The UFC doesn’t really need either of them, but if picking between the two I think Eddie would be a much better addition.

    Barnett would be nice filler for the division, and he’s got some name value, but what’s the real upside for a 35 yr old Barnett? Cormier beat him with relative ease, and a younger/better version of DC is holding the belt. A fight against Mir would be somewhat interesting, or serving as a gatekeeper for the Struves & Brownes & guys like that making their way up the ranks, but Josh Barnett just isn’t a big deal anymore. Throw in the baggage he brings with steroid use & suspensions, and I doubt the UFC is going to budge too much in negotiations.

    With Alvarez, he’s an exciting fighter with decent name value. And while not exactly young himself, he’s 6 years younger than Barnett and figures to have more mileage in him from here on out. Yes LW is pretty deep with talent, but as far as intriguing title contenders the well is currently pretty dry. I think it’s already a stretch putting Gil in there right away….and then who gets the next shot? Pettis was a great option but after his next fight he’ll either be holding the FW belt or coming off a loss, so you pretty much have to rule him out of the LW picture for the time being. Maynard is 1-1-1 over the last 2 years, with the lone victory coming in that weird fight against Guida; toss in the injuries and he has no momentum. Diaz and Cerrone just got steamrolled by Bendo and Pettis, respectively. Jim Miller has alternated wins & losses in his past 4 fights. TJ Grant has looked great but is yet to face a true contender.

    So just like Gil, an immediate title shot for Eddie would be forcing the issue, but given the current LW picture it’s an option the UFC would love to have. Fortunately, it sounds like Bellator and Eddie’s team are in the process of hammering out a settlement… but whether that would mean he stays put or moves on to the UFC is still anyone’s guess.

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  • AlphaOmega says:

    “Pettis was a great option but after his next fight he’ll either be holding the FW belt or coming off a loss, so you pretty much have to rule him out of the LW picture for the time being”

    Come on Richard, this is the UFC, if he loses to Aldo he’ll get that LW title shot.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • Angry Mike says:

    In the picture on the home page with his mohawk, Barnett looks like Judge Doom from Roger Rabbit. With all the PED’s and their nasty side effects, maybe he can do the high-pitched cartoon voice, too.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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